"Apple is exploiting the power of its brand to claim an important part of our city"
Five days before Christmas, news has dropped that a section of Federation Square has been given to Apple for its flagship Melbourne store. The Yarra Building will be demolished, and its tenants, including the Koorie Heritage Trust, relocated to make way for a globally familiar glass cube design.
Ever since Apple's first Australian store opened on Sydney's George Street in 2008, Melburnians have been waiting for their turn. Rumours have swirled about Apple's agents scouting Bourke Street Mall and Collins Street for an appropriate site. In September 2016 news circulated about Apple's plans for Fed Square, and a year later these have turned out to be true.
Opening in 2002, Federation Square has become the heart of this city. Melbourne finally had a public civic square after decades of aborted and less-relished attempts like City Square. The once-derided architecture has become accepted as part of the fabric and life of the city. Our Fed Square may have been operated by a private organisation under a charter, representing the creep of private interests to control public space. But this only roused the most ardent critics of these kinds of partnerships.
After all, Fed Square hosts hundreds of community events each year, and houses institutions like the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia and ACMI. Mostly, we ignored the roaming security guards (preventing protests) and enjoyed the assortment of eateries on offer. This place has a buzz all day and night. Few places represent the rejuvenation of Melbourne in the 1990s and 2000s more than Fed Square.